Jurisdiction of EU member states courts in matters relating to insurance: who and where may sue the insurer?


Brussels I Regulation lay down special rules on jurisdiction in respect of insurance contracts. These provisions are inspired by a concern to protect the party who is espected to be weaker than the other party to the contract. So, Recital 13 explains that, in relation to insurance, the weaker party should be protected by rules of jurisdiction more favourable to his interests than the general rules provide for. Accordingly, these provisions offer the weaker party (the policyholder, the insured or a beneficiary) a wide choice of fora in which to bring an action against an insurer who is domiciled in Member State. The choice of jurisdiction offered by Articles 8-14 of Regulation is available to the policyholder and third party beneficiaries. So, the insurer may be sued in the courts of the insurer (forum rei), in the courts of the policyholder (forum actoris), in the courts for the place where the harmful event occurred (forum delicti commissi). The choice offered by above mentioned articles is also available in relation to a direct action against a liability insurer brought by a third party victim of a tort covered by the insurance if such a direct action is permissible under the law governing the issue according to the conflict rules of the court seised. These provisions may be departed from only by an agreement on jurisdiction.